October 10, 2023 / 25 Tishrei 5784

Dear CAI Family,

We are still in shock as we continue to learn about the unfathomable events that have transpired in Israel over the past few days. Horrors too unspeakable to comprehend.

At CAI we support Israel unconditionally and totally and its right to defend itself. We are mourning the dead and praying for the healing of the wounded, the strength of soldiers, the redemption of captives, and the healing of the nation.

On Simhat Torah, we modified our typically joyful celebration of the completion and renewal of the Torah cycle. We tried to carry on — grabbing hold of the Torah and each other — finding catharsis in prayer, song, and dance even as our hearts were breaking. We exchanged looks across the room. We didn't need to say anything. We could see it in each other’s eyes. We are in crisis, we are broken.

Cantor Caplan led us beautifully in prayers that day. The ancient words hit differently against the backdrop of what we were hearing from Israel:

Ana Hashem hoshia na - Please, God, Save us!

Transform my mourning into dance...

May our enemies scatter before us...

The most important words we said all day were the words we say whenever we finish a book of the Torah — hazaq, hazaq, v'nitzhazeq be strong, be strong, and together we will strengthen each other.

Even though many of us feel helpless, there's a lot each of us can do. Here are just a few opportunities for strengthening yourself, your community, and Israel that we want to share at this moment.

  1. We are here for you and will continue to be there for each other. Being in synagogue over the weekend helped. The community gathering at Temple B'nai Jeshurun Sunday evening was powerful. Over 2,000 Jews gathered in song and prayer. Members of Congress and other dignitaries shared their support for us. We draw strength and comfort from being together in times of crisis. There's a major vigil and rally organized today at 5:00 pm in New York City. We will still have our concert and weekend with Rabbi Josh Warshawsky, but it will clearly shift in focus to reflect the emotional reality we are all experiencing. Another opportunity will be in our walk for Israel on October 22. There will be more to come. We will try to keep you informed as information becomes available.
  2. Below you can find a message from Rabbi Silverstein who is currently in Israel with Rita. We are grateful for his safety and for sharing a few insights with us.
  3. Our daily minyan is available every day of the year — morning and evening — to check in if you want to pray, connect, be with other Jews who are going through this together. We've begun adding special tehillim (psalms) and prayers for our brothers and sisters in Israel in our daily prayers. We'll continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Evening minyan is at 7:30 pm. Morning minyan is at 7:00 am weekdays, 6:45 am on Monday and Thursday due to Torah reading, 9:00 am on Sundays and federal holidays.
  4. If you'd like to say Psalms on your own, it's traditional to say any of the following Psalms in times of distress: 16, 20, 25, 26, 38, 54, 81, 85, 86, 87, 102, 130, or 142. They can be found here.
  5. This Thursday evening, October 12 at 7:30 pm, we'll gather for evening minyan in the Sanctuary. Afterwards, from 7:45-8:15 pm, we'll dedicate time to hold an additional prayer vigil for our community. This is especially intended for people who would like to share/process their feelings — honor the memory of someone they've lost or who is in harm's way, but everyone is welcome to join. We'll meet in the Sanctuary and the clergy will stay as long as we are needed to listen and support you.
  6. We've set up a makeshift memorial in the lobby outside the Sanctuary for people to bring pictures, write names, add prayers, wishes, light candles.
  7. Susan Werk and Early Childhood Center Director Geula Zamist have put together some resources for parents on how to talk to kids of different ages about the conflict. You can find this below.
  8. Give Tzedakah – there are a number of worthy causes you can support as there is urgent need for medical supplies, equipment for soldiers, bereaved families, support services for the communities that have been affected, and those who have had to evacuate. Be aware, there are also scams going around, so we encourage you only to donate to trusted and reputable charitable organizations. We recommend the GMW Emergency Fund.
  9. Raise your political voice as an American citizen. Urge your elected officials to continue America's long-standing support for Israel especially at this time of crisis.
  10. To stay informed, we encourage you to follow updates from major news/information sources including The Times of Israel, AJC — which has tips for understanding the broader context and advocacy, and For Heaven's Sake Podcast: Israel at War.
  11. One of the challenges of this age is that so many explicit and graphic images are broadcast directly into our homes and our palms. While our hearts and prayers are with the victims of this barbarism and violence, it is also okay not to watch these videos and images. I recommend that you protect children from these images as much as possible. Social media is a particularly complicated forum for engaging with this conflict, so please exercise discretion and feel free to give yourself a break. 
  12. As Israel mobilizes for war, let's also remember to cling to life's precious moments. Here are only a few examples of miraculous stories from the past few days that I want to share with you:

Our hearts ache because we also know that for every story of triumph and heroism, there is an equal number of stories of loss and tragedy. Hug your loved ones close and continue to do acts of kindness for one another.

Lastly, this is going to be a long crisis. We need to prepare spiritually and emotionally for a marathon, not a sprint. We pray that the immediate crisis subsides quickly, but the reverberations will last for years to come.


Rabbi Ari Lucas

Senior Rabbi

Message from Rabbi Emeritus Alan Silverstein

Dearest Friends,

I am writing these words from the Silverstein apartment in Modi'in, Israel.


First, thankfully Rita and I are safe, as are our son and daughter-in-law, David and Lisa, and our grandchildren, Noa, Ezra, Elisheva, and Michal.

We deeply appreciate the many phone calls, emails, and text messages of concern, compassion, and love that we have received from members of the CAI family. It is extremely reassuring at this time, when Israel is experiencing an unprecedented crisis.

As noted by Holocaust historian Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, who is serving as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, "The extent of murder, maiming, intentional humiliation, and hostage-taking of Jewish civilians last Shabbat was the worst single day of anti-Semitic persecution since the Shoah."

In the words of Daniel Gordis, the Hamas attack was neither a battle nor an invasion; it was "a pogrom" whose goal was to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible.

This war is also being seen as "Israel's 9/11." No one expected that nearly 2,000 vicious terrorists could penetrate Israel and wreak havoc on the kibbutzim, yishuvim, and towns on the Gaza border. With nearly 1,000 deaths, as many as 150 hostages, and thousands of wounded, virtually every family in Israel is learning of victims within their extended mishpachah or circle of acquaintances.

In shock, anger, and grief, Israeli society, so recently divided over the judicial reform crisis is now standing as one. All are contributing in some measure to the war effort. For example, my son's college-age yeshiva students are cleaning out shelters in Jerusalem. My grandchildren are assisting the elderly in Modi'in. My cousins and Rita's cousins of military age have been called up for full mobilization against Hamas.

We extend our prayers for the state and people of Israel, for the captives, for the wounded, for the bereaved, and for the IDF and first responders.

We urge all our dear CAI family members to keep carefully informed via reliable news sources such as the Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post. Please participate in rallies and demonstrations in support of Israel's right to self-defense; donate generously to Israel emergency campaigns; defend Israel on social media, in blogs, in op-eds, and in newspaper interviews; support CAI's Israel Committee and Walkathon. Finally, please reach out with emails, texts, and phone calls to Israeli family, friends, and acquaintances. It makes a huge difference.

Once again, thank you so very much for the kind outreach to the Silverstein family. You are VERY special to us. 




Rabbi Alan Silverstein

Rabbi Emeritus

From the Desk of Education Director Susan Werk and

Early Childhood Center Director Geula Zamist

War. How do we explain to our children — and ourselves — the overwhelmingly tragic nature of war in Israel?  Since this past Shabbat, we have felt shock, fear, helplessness, anger, and confusion.  


What can we do?

We are not helpless.

There are things we can do now. We already have the means to raise needed funds for Israel (please see Rabbi Lucas' section above for ways to contribute), and we will continue to notify our families of other opportunities to give for the benefit of the soldiers and people of Israel.

In times of distress, we traditionally turn to the Psalms as a source of strength. In our Religious School prayer services, we will emphasize the fervent hope of the prayer, "Lo yisa goy el goy cherev" — "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." From Isaiah 2:4

To keep on learning, growing, and increasing our Jewish pride is an action of solidarity and support. Finally, when we are faced with hatred and evil, our response is to strive to add more kindness, love, and understanding in the world. Seek opportunities to do a mitzvah as a family as a response to the evil we are witnessing.

How do we speak to our children? 

Remember that children react differently to disturbing news based on their age and individual personalities. Some children will know what is happening and will want and need to share the information in order to process what is going on. Other youngsters are mostly unaware and will be learning about conflicts for the first time. We all need to take a deep breath and present information that is age-appropriate in a manner that will help our youngsters develop coping mechanisms. We need to provide understanding and comfort and safe places for them to express their emotions.

Here is a wonderful article from Kveller as a resource for all ages and stages.


Steps to consider: 

1. Create a safe space to have this difficult conversation. Children should be given the room to express their thoughts and feelings. 


2. Listen. Do not assume knowledge. Ask questions first: "What did you hear?" "Where did you hear that?" "What do you think about that?" Answer the questions with honest and age-appropriate answers. Avoid overwhelming youngsters with graphic details. 


3. Children need to be reassured that they are safe and that your job as parents is to protect and support them. Giving hugs and other forms of physical comfort are important. 


4. Limit exposure to news and images. The Israeli government is urging parents to delete Instagram and TikTok from their children's devices - immediately. It's expected that terrorists will release distressing videos of hostages begging for their lives. "The videos and testimonies we are currently exposed to are bigger and crueler than our souls can contain." We must reinforce that we do not have to bear witness to this war by having the mentally damaging imagines seared into our brain. Adults, we are encouraging you to also be a role model and limit your media time.

Remember that we are together. Our doors are always open; please reach out to us for support, guidance, and love.

Susan Werk

Education Director

Geula Zamist

Early Childhood Center Director

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